Behavior and Social Issues

, Volume 28, Issue 1, pp 229–247 | Cite as

The Selection of Different Interlocked Behavioral Contingencies and Maintenance of Common Pool Resources: The Case of the Production of Açaí Berries in the Brazilian Amazon

  • Aécio BorbaEmail author


Many different fields of knowledge approach social problems such as the overuse of resources necessary for human development and survival. Joining that enterprise, behavior analysts strive for a clear description of the contingencies that select problematic cultural practices or prevent the spread of solutional patterns of behavior. This description ought to encompass the reinforcement contingencies that operate not only at the ontogenetic level but also at the cultural level. For that enterprise, especially when one looks at the possible overuse of common pool resources, a dialogue with Elinor Ostrom’s work is valuable. This article aims to describe and analyze the selection of different cultural practices in the case of the production of açaí berries in the Brazilian Amazon. In the past, caboclo communities in the Amazon region harvested and consumed the fruit in sustainable common pool management. The boom in the economy in the last 50 years has led to new practices. This paper argues that the profit of this market has selected new interlocked behavioral contingencies that may have different long-term natural effects, such as environmental erosion, and social costs, such as the exclusion of the traditional populations and the limiting of the low-income population’s access to the product.


Cultural selection Common pool resources Amazon Açaí Metacontingencies Macrocontingencies 



The author would like to thank the participants in the think tank for their contributions, especially Dr. Angelo Augusto Sampaio, Dr. Laercia Abreu Vasconcelos, Dr. Maria Malott, Dr. Roberta Lemos, and Dr. Sigrid Glenn for their comments on the first draft of this manuscript. The author presented a previous version of this manuscript during the 2018 Think Tank in Culturo-Behavior Science in Denton, Texas, and at the 2019 Association for Behavior Analysis International Conference in Chicago, Illinois.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The author declares there was no conflic of interest in the production of this paper.


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Copyright information

© Association for Behavior Analysis International 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Programa de Pós-Graduação em Teoria e Pesquisa do ComportamentoUniversidade Federal do ParáBelémBrazil
  2. 2.University of North TexasDentonUSA

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